Baek In-Je House, with 100 years of history
Designated as Folk Cultural Asset No. 22 by Seoul City in 1977, Baek In-Je House, in Gahoe-dong, is one of the few remaining large-scale traditional Korean houses in Seoul. It is a modernized traditional Korean house built by Han Sang-Ryong. Han was a nephew of Lee Wan-Yong and the executive director of Korea’s first bank, Hanseong Bank, and he enjoyed a life of luxury by riding on the coattails of the Japanese colonial government. Completed in 1913, Baek In-Je House sits on an elevated lot of land and has a tall gate and servants’ quarters. Upon entering the yard in the servants’ quarters, one can see the partly two-story inner quarters and the detached quarter, or “sarangchae,” next to each other. The house is built with black pine, a building material commonly used by the Japanese, and features various Japanese elements, such as floor, tatami rooms on the second floor, and middle corridor, as well as modern elements such as glass windows. It seems that the owner of this house used these materials in order to prove that he was a Japanized person to Japanese government officials and businessmen, the main visitors to the house. Seoul City once planned to use the house as the official residence of the mayor, but abandoned the plan when it was caught up in controversy over the fact that the house was built by a chililpa (a pro-Japanese, anti-Korean collaborator). It is a house with a tragic history, which is the very reason it should be protected as an important historical resource for the study of modern-style traditional Korean houses in Seoul.